We’ve all seen the headlines and “breaking news” reports expressing delighted horror over the “stockpile” found in a suspect’s home. Maybe it’s three rifles and 250 rounds of ammo. Maybe it’s 10 rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammo.
HUGE arsenal of guns and ammunition found in the home of….
Amounts of ammo that strike terror in the hearts of beat reporters everywhere make most gun owners shake their heads. But how much ammunition do you really need – with “need” being a wildly subjective term?
Can you ever really have enough?
There are so many factors to consider it’s difficult to know where to begin. Given the current climate, let’s go with a lockdown scenario for an unspecified length of time with the stores stripped of ammunition as many currently are.
Let’s say you are unable to buy ammunition for up to 90 days and in that time, you are facing a lockdown, maybe a curfew, possible martial law, and a slim chance of riots and looting.
David Werner, who works at a gun store and range in Loveland, Colorado said, “We have limited ammo sales to our members and people using our range. One hundred rounds of common calibers and one box of defensive ammo. If you are looking now you are far too late.”
Hear that? Most stores are sold out and some are now trying to keep their loyal customers covered (good for them).
Oh, and remember, law enforcement is increasingly not responding to non-violent crimes such as burgalary and theft. They’re relying on a “catch and release” method rather than arrests for a multitude of crimes. How long do you think it will be before criminal acts increase in frequency and violence because the bad guys are well aware LE isn’t responding?
Something I’m seeing is a surprising amount of “It’ll never happen to me/I can’t believe it’s happening to me” thinking within the gun world. I’m not talking about new gun owners here, I’m talking people who should know better. People who are involved in supposedly spreading the Gospel of the Gun. People who really have no excuse not to be at least somewhat prepared.
Instead I’m discovering guys I thought would be at least kinda-sorta prepared and really only have 50 rounds of FMJs collecting dust on a shelf and 20 rounds of defensive ammo. That’s it.
I’ve run into a bunch of guys with only hunting loads, none of which are truly suitable for personal defense for their shotguns. Guys who “always meant” to buy that AR pattern rifle or a decent quality handgun and now are scrambling for one.
Well, it’s happening and if you aren’t prepared, you’re kind of SOL right now.
First, a word on the current state of people scrambling for products.
I’ve been approached through social media and via email by so many people asking for help getting a gun, I’ve lost count. They’re asking me to give or sell them one of my guns, or asking me to give or sell them some of my ammo.
Those guys – yes they’re all men – aren’t friends, they’re mostly readers or casual acquaintances. Throw in a handful of people who probably Googled and saw an article I wrote about the Uber Blaster 1000 or how to defend your home and it’s become quite a mess. They’re not prepared and they now hope the serious gun owners will take care of them.
Hmm, didn’t we predict this happening in case of emergencies?
Check out John Boch’s piece How Do You Handle People Who Suddenly Want to Borrow a Gun. Apply that principle to ammo as you wish (granted, you can’t exactly lend out ammo, it’s a consumable).
Bare Minimum Amounts of Ammo
You’ll find a lot of varying opinions on what the minimum round count should be in your ammunition stash. Some say 500 rounds is enough, some say 1,000, and others say 2,000. So how do we get to an answer? We don’t, not really. Here are a few examples:
A few numbers to mull over, though. During the 1986 FBI Miami Shootout approximately 145 shots were fired in under five minutes. In this case we’re talking about FBI agents likely trying to account for shots, not firing wantonly with no thought other than taking down a target.
Then there’s the average police-involved shooting which typically involves about four shots fired. Many, however, involve 20 shots fired or more, and that’s just in a matter of seconds.
Factor in how many shots actually strike the target and how many shots it takes to stop the threat – which depends on shot placement, your ammo, and whether the threat is hopped up on drugs – and things get kind of crazy trying to guesstimate how many rounds you’ll need.
Then there’s the kind of self-defense situation you may find yourself in. Is it a one-on-one attack? Are you up against three or more home invaders? Is your home under full-on assault by an unknown number of looters?
Is this at close range and you’re using your handgun or do you only have access to your rifle? Is a shotgun the only firearm in your bedroom or all you were able to grab? Do you understand how shotgun patterning works at different distances?
What about the frequency of shots fired? Maybe you can’t run your trigger accurately with incredible speed, but a lot of shooters can (we practiced…before the SHTF). The downside to that speed is more shots fired in a smaller window of time. The upside is they’re hopefully on target and end the threat faster with less risk to your own life or those of your family.
As you can see, it’s flat-out impossible to account for every variable so don’t even try. You’ll just give yourself a migraine.
Bare minimum? I’d feel comfortable with thousand rounds of ammo per defensive firearm, bumping that up to 2,000 rounds minimum for your defensive rifle. You will burn through ammo faster than you think during a fight for your life and the lives of your family members.
I can run the trigger on my favorite AR-15 fast enough to put five shots on target in a decent group in about one second. A friend of mine, Jonathon Disher, ran his AR-15 with fantastic speed firing 5 shots in 0.88 seconds, 0.2 seconds of which was shouldering the rifle at the beep, meaning it was really 0.68 seconds for shots fired. On target. Fast and accurate.
If you prefer a hunting-related example, let’s go to sounders of hogs. Ever been involved in an all-out mag dump situation on a sounder of running feral swine? In under 90 seconds you can easily burn through your loaded mags — whatever you had on you — whether it’s three 20-round mags or more.
I’ve watched guys with full-auto burn through so much ammo on hogs in such a short time frame – and miss. Yeah, they miss.
Mag dumps are never A Good Idea. Remember, you’re responsible for every shot fired whether you’re stopping a two-legged threat or hunting four-legged game for food.
Ideally? I’d like 5,000 to 10,000 rounds per defensive firearm. Hunting-only guns – not that there is such a thing as a hunting-only gun in my house – you’re fine going for a lower round count.
Now, feel free to unleash in the comments as to how this is a totally unrealistic number of rounds to keep arund. And consider this my “those are rookie numbers” response to people who think 1,000 or less is just fine for a long-term TEOWAWKI situation.
Remember, if an unknown amount of time is passing by before you can refresh your ammunition inventory and there’s rioting, looting, and similar violence going on, you need all the ammo you can get.
You may be trying to make new shooters competent enough to help with home defense, helping to police your small community…who knows. Plan accordingly for the uses you can forecast.
Also keep in mind you’ll need more ammo to keep a larger number of guns loaded if it’s not just you, but family members or friends using the guns.
Side note: you are not John Wayne and this is not a movie. Is helping others out a great thing in tough times? Sure, but take care of yourself and your family first and foremost.
Just because the SHTF doesn’t mean you should take it upon yourself to be a crime fighter. Worry about your own mess. Be realistic. Leave enforcing the law to law enforcement. Don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things. Especially now.
Those Boutique Rounds Though…
If you’re a fan of some random boutique round and have one or more unique guns chambered in said boutique rounds, those aren’t the calibers to focus on stocking. You are better off stashing the common calibers – assuming you have the guns to go with them, of course – than you are messing with those strange and unusual ones.
If all you have is a random gun chambered in 7.65x25mm Tokarev, of course, get an ammo pile going for it. But if you have more common caliber guns, focus on those first.
A word on storage. Ammo should be stored in a cool, dry place. This is where ammo cans and dessicants come into play. With proper storage your ammo will be just fine for years (this isn’t the time to get into the details of rotating your stock and when to shoot and replace it).
Hey, I’m a writer. Of course I’m going to suggest applicable books. And right now, there are a lot of you at home with time on your hands.
Check out Prepper Guns by Bryce Towsley, a gun guy who really does know his stuff.
Written with the law-abiding civilian in mind, Prepper Guns covers the firearms and tools needed to survive, not only for defense, but also for foraging. It is a comprehensive look at the realities of the firearms a prepper should have.
It’s excellent and you can take a look at it here. You can also hit Bryce’s website to look at all his titles. Another good resource is books by the late Mel Tappan such as Tappan on Survival and Survival Guns.
Preparing for the unknown means trying to think of possible scenarios and gathering the supplies you need to handle said scenarios. You cannot plan for every eventuality because the universe does love to throw you curve balls, but you do your best.
Stocking up on ammo takes time and patience. And right now, it’s pretty difficult. If you’ve been caught totally unprepared, learn from it. Work harder to do better in the future — we will get past this and there is still a future — and hope this isn’t the time you learn that being unprepared might get someone hurt or killed.
Everyone laughs at the preppers and the rednecks…until now.